By Emmanuel Aziken
The political permutations in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP were at the weekend narrowing following the apparent decline of President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the amendment to the 2022 Electoral Act. The decline with its boomerang on the major political parties now makes it that only an estimated 811 persons will elect the PDP’s presidential candidate with statuory delegates including president, serving and former governors, and serving and former members of the National Assembly excluded from voting at the national conventions.
Sunday Vanguard reports that the 811 voting delegates at the PDP convention would include 774 national delegates (1 Per LGA and 37 special delegates (People with disability from each of the 36 states and FCT).
Yesterday, the PDP affirmed its decision to abide by the subsisting provisions of the Electoral Act with the party’s national organizing secretary Umar Bature saying that the party would abide with the provisions.
“Consequently those qualified and eligible to vote as delegates in the forthcoming primaries and National Convention of our great Party, the PDP are the three ad hoc delegates per ward, elected at the ward congresses.
“Also qualified are one national delegate per local government elected at the local government area congresses,” Bature stressed.
The implication of the development was at the weekend reshaping permutations for the presidential candidates in the party with Senator Bukola Saraki, Governors Nyesom Wike and Aminu Tambuwal being boosted by the development. How the permutation affects Atiku Abubakar from the Northeast was not immediately clear yesterday.
While Saraki has been boosted by the endorsement of the North-Central zone of the PDP, Wike even though without an endorsement from the South-South, is, however, without a serious contender from the region and would be gladdened by the fact that he has a fewer number of delegates within and outside the zone to reach out to.
- READ ALSO: Nigeria 2023: The Saraki Agenda
Tambuwal would also be gladdened by the fact that the Northwest Zone would presenting the highest number of delegates to the convention given the region’s superior number of local governments. Tambuwal’s room for maneuver, is however, tempered by incursions made into the zone by Wike and Saraki.
Sunday Vanguard reports that Wike was recently endorsed by the Kano State chapter of the party while Saraki is also hopeful of picking up support from the remnants of the followers of Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso who have left for the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP. Saraki is also said to be building on networks in Zamfara through former senators from the region.
The Northwest has 186 National Delegates more than double the 95 coming from the Southeast, a region that has three major presidential aspirants, Peter Obi, Anyim Pius Anyim and entrepreneur, Pharm Sam Ohabunwa. The development means strong consequences for the Southeast as the limited number of the national delegates available from the zone is now being split among themselves and others poaching from outside.
While Atiku looked formidable on the national scene, being the immediate past presidential candidate of the party, he has to grapple with Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi for the Northeast’s 112 national delegates. Atiku is also being challenged by the fact that no governor is openly associating with him besides his home governor, Ahmadu Fintri who according to political insiders sees it as an obligation or rather compulsion to support the former vice-president.
While the stalemate on the Electoral Act is like a catastrophe for the Southeast as it removes the region’s advantages in statutory delegates it also at the same time present’s the region’s diminished LGAs, 95.
The development according to political stakeholders shifts attention to the Southwest which only has Ayo Fayose as a contender. It is a development that is gladdening for the Saraki, Wike and the Atiku camps who have strong appendages in the region.
Saraki has maternal origin in the region and campaign officials are very hopeful of the support of delegates from Ondo where the campaign is fighting off the influence of Atiku who has entered the state through his long-time associate, Eyitayo Jegede.
The Wike campaign on its part is hopeful of mobilizing delegates through the only governor in the region, Seyi Makinde who is openly backing the Rivers State governor. Ayodele Fayose who even though an aspirant is also believed to be working for Wike.
The development has turned the Southwest into the most contested zone with Atiku, Saraki and Wike fighting through political allies and maternal and marital connections.
Atiku according to sources on the field is fighting off Saraki in Osun, a state he had until not too long ago taken for the asking given his marital roots in the state. Saraki it was gathered has been bolstered through his alliance with Senator Ademola Adeleke who is in firm control of the state.
Tambuwal is also fighting for footage in the region but past issues between the Sokoto State governor and the Southwest PDP is reportedly rearing up again. Southwest political leaders mutter now and again that Tambuwal became speaker of the House of Representatives in 2011 at the expense of the Southwest.
The new developments concerning the Electoral Act has also willy-nilly bolstered the hitherto struggling campaign of Tambuwal. An associate of the Sokoto State governor was joyous yesterday over the development yesterday.
“My friend what have I been telling you since? We have the numbers look at the delegates’ composition, Tambuwal from the Northwest has the highest number of national delegates.”
The assertion from the Tambuwal supporter was, however, tackled by a Saraki campaign official who countered the claim.
The Saraki campaign is confident of Kebbi and also parts of Jigawa where former Governor Sule Lamido is said to be heavily backing Tambuwal against Saraki.
Saraki is also fighting a pitch battle with Wike in Katsina. The Rivers State governor according to multiple sources is spreading out through Senator Lado.